The UK today confirmed its first coronavirus death in an “older patient with underlying health conditions” as the number of cases jumped to 116 and fears of a crisis gripped Britain.

NHS officials revealed the unidentified patient tested positive for the killer infection last night at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading last night before succumbing to the illness today.

Mail Online reports: “No further details about the patient were released but the hospital trust admitted they had ‘previously been in and out of hospital’. Health chiefs fear they caught the virus in the UK.

“Cases of the killer coronavirus have now doubled in the UK, with just 51 cases recorded two days ago. Eight of the new cases diagnosed today caught the virus on British soil.

“It comes after health bosses today conceded the infection is definitely spreading in the UK and not just among those who have travelled abroad, sparking fears the crisis is bigger than figures show.

“Number 10 ratcheted up its response to the second ‘delay’ phase of its ‘battle plan’, which could see troops deployed on streets and thousands of NHS operations cancelled, because it no longer believes it can prevent an outbreak.”

Meanwhile, England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said there was now a “slim to zero” chance that the virus – which has infected more than 96,000 people worldwide – could be stopped.

And he said elderly people, known to be most likely to die from the coronavirus, did not yet need to batten down the hatches at home and that catching the virus in old age does not mean you would be a “goner”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today tried to reassure Britons he would “keep the country fed” during the outbreak, in a bid to stop panic-buyers from raiding supermarket shelves and stockpiling food, as supermarket aisles remained bare across the UK.

“Manufacturers have ramped up production and are working at ‘full capacity’ to ensure shelves can be re-stocked, while retailers are even considering rationing household essentials such as toilet paper in response,” the report said.

“Final-year medical students could be drafted in to reduce the strain on hospitals in the event of an epidemic, as well as retirees being pulled back into the workforce.

“There are now 90 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Britain, after three more were confirmed in Scotland this morning.

“Overall, current figures show 80 cases in England, six in Scotland, one in Wales and three in Northern Ireland.

A woman wearing a face mask at Crufts, a dog show in Birmingham

“Twenty-five new cases were diagnosed in England this afternoon, including 17 who caught the virus abroad and eight who were infected in the UK,” the report added.

“Of the 105 cases in England, 25 are in London, 17 in the north-west, 17 in the south-east, 15 in the south-west, 10 in the north-east and Yorkshire, nine in the midlands, eight in the east. Four have yet to be determined.

“Wales then confirmed its second case moments after the Department of Health updated its toll, saying a patient in Cardiff had tested positive after returning home from a trip to northern Italy – the centre of Europe’s escalating crisis.

Mail Online understands this case wasn’t counted in the UK toll announced at 4pm, meaning the total number of infected patients in the UK is 116.”

As the new cases were diagnosed in the UK and the Prime Minister sought to reassure millions of Brits of the following:

  • Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned trains and buses can harbour the killer germs as he urged people to wash their hands and stop touching their mouths and admitted ICU beds in the NHS could come under intense pressure during the outbreak
  • The competition watchdog warned firms could be prosecuted or fined if they hike prices on products such as hand sanitisers and disinfectants as people continue to panic about the coronavirus
  • Fears the virus is spreading inside the NHS grew after it was revealed at least four staff and a patient and student at King’s College Hospital are among those to have been diagnosed
  • An international poll found Britons were among the most relaxed people in the world about the threat of coronavirus – but are also the least likely to take precautions
  • Six Nations rugby chiefs confirmed that Italy’s home match against England on March 14 was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis
  • Europe’s largest regional airline Flybe collapsed into administration, blaming coronavirus for ‘making a difficult situation worse’ – despite long-running financial troubles
  • ITV revealed travel companies are deferring their TV advertising because of the disease, with advertising revenue due to drop 10 per cent in April
  • The Grand Princess cruise ship, with around 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew, is being held off the coast of California after a former passenger died from Covid-19
  • Investment bank Goldman Sachs warned the coronavirus outbreak is set to push the UK economy to the brink of recession in the coming months
  • Final-year medical students could be drafted in to reduce the strain on hospitals, as well as retirees being pulled back into the workforce
  • Calls to the NHS 111 helpline are up 40 per cent on the same time last year amid the crisis
  • A Spanish coronavirus patient recovered after being treated with an HIV drug that stops the deadly virus replicating, raisin hopes of a cure
  • HSBC today evacuated part of its UK headquarters after a worker tested positive for coronavirus in the first known case at the heart of London’s financial district

Top Feature Photo: A passenger wears a face mask while riding the London Underground as infections rapidly approached triple digits in the UK – Image: Getty Images